“Negativity can’t exist, and do everything with love”

“Negativity can’t exist, and do everything with love”

Sonya Duckworth and her eldest daughter, Brittany, have a relationship that is so treasured, not even a life-changing diagnosis could break their bond.

In early Spring of 2018, Brittany’s mom, Sonya found out she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She is currently undergoing treatment at Advocate South Suburban Hospital in Hazel Crest, Ill., with Brittany standing by her side to help her through good times and bad.

When Brittany first learned of her mom’s diagnosis, a great number of emotions traveled through her mind: the unknown, the next steps and how her mom’s illness would change the dynamics of their everyday life.

“The unknown didn’t bother me as much; it was just watching my mom have to process everything because she’s everything to everyone, so now I have to be everything to her,” says Brittany. Nonetheless, Brittany has a positive relationship with God, and having this comfort provides her some ease.

Brittany and Sonya do everything together, whether it’s watching Judge Judy or going to the grocery store, their favorite activity. They are each other’s “peanut butter to their jelly” and best friends. Sonya’s diagnosis has only strengthened their bond.

Chemotherapy can often be rigorous for the body and mind. Brittany attends every single treatment with her mom, but not without bringing three things: snacks, water and laughs.

How do you maintain positivity in midst of battling cancer?

No matter the situation, Brittany always tries to bring humor into the room. In particular, she tells jokes as an outlet to prevent frustration on tough days.

“Laughter is the best medicine,” expresses Brittany, who’s considered the family comedian. “And it’s all what you believe because your mind is the strongest and most important thing – period. Whatever your thoughts are, they are your actions, your reality, so you have to control what you think and keep yourself around positive people.”

One of the most significant ways Sonya’s cancer has altered their relationship is that roles are now reversed in terms of taking care of each other. But Sonya’s strength is overwhelming for Brittany. Her mom’s ability to have a firm mindset motivates Brittany to take that same determination and keep pressing forward during this fight.

And it’s Sonya’s diagnosis that encourages Brittany to become more like Sonya: strong, confident and resilient – especially because during this difficult time, Brittany views herself as the leader in her family, offering guidance and advice to her siblings and loved ones.

Through this journey, Brittany has learned a very valuable lesson: prayer and faith can change a lot of things. For other families who have a loved one battling cancer, Brittany says believe in yourself and persevere. Surrounding yourself with positive people and sprinkling love all around can make a big difference, even during the darkest days.

Sonya and Brittany have their own cherished motto:

“Negativity can’t exist, and do everything with love,” says Brittany.

June is National Cancer Survivorship Month, a time dedicated to celebrating those who have beat cancer, an inspiration for those who are still battling and encourage cancer awareness for our community. We asked friends and family members to share letters, words of encouragement and special messages to the survivors in their lives. Watch their incredibly touching video submissions.

Our Breast Health Assessment estimates your five-year and lifetime risks of developing breast cancer.

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About the Author

Kelsey Andeway
Kelsey Andeway

Kelsey Andeway, health e-news contributor, is a public affairs intern at Advocate Health Care in Downers Grove. She is a senior at Loyola University Chicago earning a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies with a minor in Dance. In her free time, Kelsey enjoys dancing, baking, and taking long walks with her Chocolate Lab.